Studies have shown that in most cases when age-related hearing loss has occurred, both ears are generally affected. This does not include instances where hearing loss is the result of trauma and only one ear may be affected. Although the amount of loss may not be equal for both ears, it is a safe assumption that both ears are experiencing at least some noticeable loss. As a result, a common question asked when a person is struggling with hearing loss is;
Is a monaural or binaural hearing aid fitting the best for me?
By definition monaural hearing is defined as the “reception of sound by one ear” while binaural hearing is “having or relating to two ears”. So the question then becomes, if you have hearing loss in both ears, is using a monaural hearing aid solution (just one hearing aid) an adequate treatment. Here is an example that may clarify that best way to answer this question. Imagine listening to your favorite music on the stereo. It has two amplifiers and two speakers, to give music and speech a natural depth. If only one amplifier and speaker are working, the sounds become shallow and flat. This is how people who only wear one hearing aid but should be wearing two may also perceive sound.
Still not convinced? Here is another example to help show that binaural hearing is far better than monaural hearing in an environment where noise is present. Consider a person with equal hearing in both ears sitting in a busy restaurant trying to have a conversation. With binaural hearing, the brain is able to process sounds more naturally and separate the conversation from the background noise. What do you think might happen if one ear was plugged with an ear plug? The result would be that it becomes much more difficult to decipher speech against background noise with monaural hearing. But why?
The answer is localization ability - and it refers to when the brain receives slightly different, yet still audible signals in both ears at slightly different moments in time. With binaural hearing, the brain has the ability to cross-correlate and process the primary signal (usually speech) better than if the signal is received monaurally. That is why only one hearing aid for people with hearing loss in one ear has proven to improve their understanding in noise. In effect, the hearing aid has partially restored their localization ability within the damaged ear and become more balanced with the undamaged one. Regaining this ability to tell where sounds come from is often the most beneficial facet of wearing hearing aids. In the case with hearing impaired people suffering from loss in both ears, if localization and increased volume are regained in just one ear, then the brain is still not receiving sound signals naturally and continues to have trouble processing them efficiently.
Clinical studies show the human auditory system uses information from both ears for both directional information and a means of natural noise reduction. In fact, studies show that the benefit of binaural fitting has been shown to be triple the benefit of monaural. Localization is important, and so is dealing with an increasing loud sounding world. For people with hearing loss in both ears, the input from only one hearing aid can be uncomfortably loud while a balanced input from two hearing aids at the same volume isn’t.
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Today’s digital sound processors do more than just make the world louder. They automatically do a much better job at reducing the gain of loud sounds without affecting how soft sounds are amplified, adding a degree of clarity and acoustic comfort in modern digital hearing aids not possible with yesterday’s technology. Many of the hearing aids Advanced Affordable Hearing offers give the user the ability to optimize the sound quality.
It’s the number one reason for people to opt for one hearing aid, but that’s changing due to developments from companies like Advanced Affordable Hearing. Prices range from around $150 into thousands of dollars for one hearing aid, but experts agree most binaurally impaired people will do better with two $500 hearing aids than with one $1,000 hearing aid. Therefore, the benefit of wearing hearing aids is not in the features or cost of the hearing aid being worn, but instead from the fact the brain simply functions better and processes sound better when receiving signals from two inputs.
In conclusion, by offering hearing aids at prices that put the benefits of wearing a pair of hearing aids within reach of almost everyone, Advanced Affordable Hearing has literally helped thousands of people hear better and more clearly. But beyond the clinical studies, marketing hype, and costs coming down there’s a synergy that develops when wearing two hearing aids restores balance to our sense of hearing – and that’s priceless.